By Steve Pomper
It would be a surprise in most places, a suspect setting a police car on fire with a police officer inside it. But not when it happens in the virtually lawless city of Seattle. I take violence perpetrated against any cops seriously. But, having driven in a patrol car for more than a couple decades in Seattle, I take suspects attacking cops here personally.
Caleb Pomazon, the officer identified in The Seattle Times as the cop attacked, patrols the streets I patrolled. He is working with officers I worked with. And he gets sent to calls by the same people who dispatched me. So, I felt it viscerally when I saw the officer on video reacting to a suspect trying to burn him alive in his patrol car.
The officer was patrolling the South Lake Union neighborhood, a mixed commercial-residential area. The dispatcher sent the officer to a report of a man walking with a piece of lumber he’d set on fire. The officer’s body cam begins as he is on his radio reporting the suspect walking in an alley. The officer observes the torch the suspect is wielding and says, “It is on fire… very on fire.”
The suspect is walking away from the officer who is driving up the alley from behind. The officer orders the suspect, “Seattle Police. Stop!” The suspect continues walking. As the suspect nearly reaches the end of the alley where he will likely come into contact with pedestrian and vehicle traffic, the officer accelerates toward the suspect. The suspect could seriously injure or kill someone.
The officer stops his patrol car several yards from the suspect and again shouts, “Seattle Police. Stop, dude.” But rather than stop, like a scene out of a zombie movie, the suspect turns toward the officer and charges at him, the flaming portion of the lumber forward like a spearhead on a lance.
As the suspect reaches the patrol car, the officer fires his weapon at the suspect from what appears to be within his patrol car. The suspect has hurled the flaming lumber into the patrol car, injuring the officer, and setting the car on fire. The suspect flees, uninjured. It’s likely the many interior patrol car obstructions prevented rounds from striking the suspect. Fortunately, other officers soon locate the suspect in a nearby parking garage, where they used a taser to take him into custody. Police identified the suspect as Brian Leil, 37 years old.
Held on $500,000 bail, the King County Prosecutors are charging Leil with First Degree Assault. Why not attempted murder? I don’t know, but it doesn’t surprise me. That office is not what you’d call, cop friendly.
Prior to the incident, the suspect was reportedly wandering through a nearby “homeless” camp, threatening and assaulting people with a hammer. Some reported he was also shouting racial slurs as he walked. MSN News reported, “Neighbors called the whole ordeal frightening, adding the homeless camp at Denny Park has been nothing but trouble.” A “homeless” camp brought to you by an irresponsible mayor, city attorney, and city council—that voters keep electing.
“Ken Wright, who lives across the street [said] ‘I’m getting tired of all the garbage happening, truthfully, because that park is dangerous.’” Don’t worry Mr. Wright, Mayor Durkan is on it. She’ll finally do it right this time. A mayor’s spokesperson released this pallid statement:
“Mayor Durkan shares the concern of many about the growing encampments across the City, for the safety and well being of those living in and around encampments, including our housed community, and neighborhoods. Mayor Durkan hopes the City Council will quickly support her plan to rapidly increase shelter and outreach to get more individuals into safer spaces. In recent days MO staff, HSD, Councilmembers, and contracted service providers have engaged in a number of conversations on how going forward we can collectively improve our response to individuals experiencing homelessness, especially in larger encampments in Denny Park and other parks across the City.”
Catch that? “Housed community,” thus establishing an “equity” lexicon for the “homeless” issue. By “housed,” Durkan means law-abiding, taxpaying residents, right? Next, she offers the same tired suggestions that have failed over the last 30 years. But she does wants to have a (another) “conversation” on how to “improve our responses to individuals experiencing homelessness.” Right, it’s all our fault. So, don’t worry, Seattleites—Jenny’s got this.
Oh, and regarding the mayor’s statement. I read nothing about any concern for the injured officer. Again, if I’m wrong and she did call of visit, I’ll apologize. But she hasn’t visited any of the many injured officers, yet, so I don’t know why she’d start now.
Or, here’s another suggestion, Madame Mayor. Forget the BLM or Antifa so-called radicals. Here’s what’s become a truly radical idea: you could allow Seattle police officers to actually enforce the law—equally—against everyone. What, too radical?